Having taken such a long and varied path to Glion’s London campus, it’s little surprise that Dr Annette Kappert has a fascination for how our life experiences influence the way we teach and learn.

In fact, this was one of the core topics that Annette – who is both lecturer and MSc Program Manager – covered in her recently-completed doctorate in educational leadership.

“When people arrive at companies or educational institutions, the temptation is to try and ‘whitewash’ them with the established standards and ways of doing things,” she explains.

“But these individuals all have their own unique life experiences, which have shaped their thoughts and ideas. It’s such a shame that they are often denied the freedom to bring these to the table.

“Going through my doctorate process has definitely changed the way I approach classroom teaching. Now, from the first lesson, it’s about finding out who my students really are and let them bring something of themselves to the program.”

An early introduction to hospitality

Annette’s own life experiences were very much shaped by her parents, who relocated to her father’s native Jamaica (Annette herself was born in Liverpool) from the UK when she was six years old.

“My hospitality experience began as a teenager with a holiday job at the head office of a hotel company in Montego Bay,” she says. “Then, after completing high school, I got my first full time job working as entertainment coordinator at a luxury hotel called Seawind Beach Resort. You could say that the taste for performing has stayed with me ever since.

“After a while, my parents began to pressure me to pursue a ‘proper’ career; so I trained as a teacher in food and nutrition. As soon as I graduated, though, I went straight back into the hotel business!”

Annette adds that her teaching qualification wasn’t wasted even though she didn’t initially set foot in a classroom, since it helped her enormously in training her staff. Most usefully of all, it gave her a balance of the practical arts and the theory underpinning them. This, she believes, is essential to success.

“It’s great to have the practical experience, but you really do need the theory as well. This provides confidence in what you are talking about. It also gives you the rationale to support the way you choose to do things. This is really crucial when you are trying to break the set behaviors I referred to before.”

Answering the call of the classroom

Annette’s career in hospitality management education really took off after she moved to the Netherlands with her Dutch husband. She took a teaching position at Hotelschool The Hague, the experience from which made it an easy transition to come to Glion.

Having started out as a guest lecturer in 2016, Annette joined the permanent staff in the autumn of 2018. Alongside her core subject of destination management and strategy, she also teaches academic English and luxury from a brand design and innovation standpoint.

And of course she is Program Manager for the MSc in International Hospitality Business, which is taught both in London and at the campuses in Glion and Bulle. In this role she guides the program content and maintains quality standards, while also working with her Swiss counterpart to ensure that both the UK and Swiss programs cover the same ground.

“We have a big advantage being based in London, with so many important hospitality players on our doorstep,” she says. “We have excellent relationships with the industry, so we’re constantly able to take students out to see the industry close-up.”

Another major plus of the London campus, for Annette, is its international character. “I don’t think there’s a single person among our staff or students who is actually from London. We all bring our own international backgrounds, and this creates a unique and special atmosphere.

One thing all the campuses have in common is the challenging and enquiring minds of the students. “When you teach at Glion, you’d better be ready. I may teach for 50 minutes, but my preparation will be double or triple that time. These students are prepared, they’ll pick you up on your data and they have very high expectations.

“It’s a challenge I love, though. When I taught a luxury module for the first time it was a 30-hour course. At the end of the week the toughest student in the class came up to me and said ‘Miss, that was fun!’. That’s the biggest compliment I could receive.”

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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